A Brief History of Water in Stewartstown

The first Stewartstown Water Company was formed in the year 1900. The water system has had several owners since then. Through the 1960's and 70’s, the water quality was often very bad, and there were several rate increases. In 1984 the Stewartstown Borough Authority (the Borough) purchased the water system and has brought it to its current state. Over this time, the Borough has maintained a constant water rate, and has built-up nearly $2 Million in reserves.

Since the Borough has owned the system, many people have complained about the taste of the water and the high cost relative to other communities in this area. In 1996, a 3-party group was formed to investigate these complaints and to write a report. The group was made-up-of representatives from the Federal Government, the Stewartstown Borough Authority, and the community.

In 1997 the water study was completed and the report was written - the Stewartstown Borough Water Study. This report identified a new problem that affects everyone on the Borough’s water system regardless of where they live. The source of the water for the current water system is ground water that is pumped to the surface from several wells that are located around town. Due to a reduction in the amount of ground water, and a steady increase in the number of residences and businesses connected to the system, the current supply of ground water will not be able to meet the demand of its users in the near future.

Several solutions have been proposed. The two most popular options are mentioned here. The first option is for the Borough to build a Surface Water Treatment Plant (SWTP) to process water that would be pumped from Ebaugh Creek to supplement the current system of wells. The second option is for the Borough to sell the system to the York Water Company (York Water) who would connect it to their system.

Note, until recently, selling the system to York Water was not an option because York Water did not have a water main in the southern part of York County; however, they have now run a water main to Exit 1 off I-83.

Option 1: Build a Surface Water Treatment Plant (SWTP) - Ebaugh Creek

The SWTP would be constructed by using a small inflatable dam, to dam-up a tiny creek, to create a pool of water that could be pumped into a Filtration Plant. The SWTP would cost over $1 Million to build, and the Borough would be responsible for operating and maintaining it. The source of the water would be Ebaugh Creek that originates just north of Plank Road on the landfill which is so severly polluted that it has been designated a Penn. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Superfund Site. Ebaugh Creek is a very tiny creek, often only a few feet wide and a few inches deep. This would make the SWTP more difficult to operate, and it would have to be shut-down regularly due to mud in the creek. Also, the sludge that would be produced by the SWTP would have to be disposed of.

We can not control what happens upstream on Ebaugh Creek, and its future supply of water is not guaranteed.

Since the DEP has not granted the Borough any of the permits that are necessary to build the system, it may take several years to complete the project, and the DEP may not even grant the permits.

Also, the current wells would also have to be operated and maintained to supplement the SWTP.

Option 2: Sell the water system to the York Water Company - York Water

York Water Co would purchase the water system from the Borough and connect it to York Water Co’s system by running a new water main from I-83 Exit 1 to Stewartstown. York Water Co would perform the new construction at their expense, and it would be done in approximately 9 to 12 months. York Water Co has a large supply of water and a good reputation. In addition, our monthly water rates would be significantly less than for the Surface Water Treatment Plant.

We can either go with the Ebaugh Creek and the SWTP, and spend a lot of money on a system that would be marginal at best, and would have a questionable future, or we can go with York Water Co and spend no money to connect to a large system with a long future. The choice is obvious - York Water Co is the way to go; however, the Borough has not come to the same conclusion. The Borough has voted to proceed with plans to build the SWTP and does not appear to want to negotiate with York Water Co in good faith.

The Borough’s desire to maintain control of the system is not a good enough reason to choose an extremely inferior solution to our problem.

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